Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPC: Online records access plans 'risk abuse'

GP leaders have strongly criticised the Department of Health’s plans to radically expand online access to patient records, saying they risk confidential information ending up in the hands of ‘abusive people’.

The GPC strongly criticised plans to make patient records available online by 2015 and plans for a wider rollout of e-consultations, which it said would put patients at risk and fundamentally change how GPs work.

The NHS mandate, published this week, revealed ambitious plans for all patients to book appointments and order prescriptions online. It also said that patients should be able to securely email their GP by 2015. It also says that e-consultations should become ‘much more widely’ available.

But the GPC warned rolling out e-consultations would risk patient confidentiality as neither party could know for sure who was on the other end of the email conversation. It also criticised plans for online access to patient records.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘It gives the patient access to their records but also anyone who the patient gives a copy to.

‘This could be police or lawyers and so on, but we could also see it ending up in the hands of abusive people or third parties.

‘I can see teenage parents trying to find out who has had sex with whom, who is doing drugs. I don’t think that’s a good use of medical records.

‘There are certain things you wouldn’t want others to see, for example information on termination of pregnancy, syphilis and drug use.’

He also said the extra workload would be unbearable for busy GPs, as patients went online to find test results they did not understand and would immediately want to speak to their doctor.

He said: ‘When do I do this? Is it a night time activity, an evening activity? This is a workload that I do not currently have.’

He added: ‘We know from [previous trialling] that nobody was interested in it at all. Although some people may be interested at first, in the long term it would be the third parties who had the biggest interest. This is a crucial issue for us to explain to the public.’

Also commenting on the mandate, GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the GPC was disappointed that the long-floated plans have now ‘been made a political imperative’, despite the Government being made aware of GPC concerns and despite the fact the Government’s own research project – which is being carried out by the RCGP – is still outstanding.

He concluded: ‘Patients already have access to their records, so none of this is necessary.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Enabling greater access to health records is one way we can support people to become partners in decisions about their treatment and better manage their health and care. However, this needs to be balanced with protecting confidentiality and security of information.  

‘We asked the RCGP to establish a Stakeholder Group representing Royal Colleges, patient groups, the BMA, the Department of Health and the NHS Commissioning Board, in order to develop plans to give patients greater electronic access to their GP records.

‘This group is now working to identify the requirements and support arrangements needed for the successful implementation of this commitment. We would expect the NHS Commissioning Board to develop a robust and secure process for delivering this objective for other areas of care.’

Story updated 15:28

Readers' comments (14)

  • Very sensible response. I think that it is very difficult to get this really important view across because it can automatically be assumed to be resistance to change. If we are not careful this policy will join a long line of policies that have "unforeseen, unintended consequences" except that they arent unforeseen when you take advice from those with the experience and foresight to predict what the consequenses could easily be. I suspect that this will be like locally run schools or locally elected police commissioners - something that a very few think will be popular with everyone but when it comes to implementation, turns out to be popular and used by very few (i.e. themselves). Look at the billions spent on healthspace - how many patients actually accessed their records?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm sure it won't be too long before we have an honour killing related to what the abusive father found in his daughter's notes after he beat the access PIN out of her.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Seriously! Get over yourself. Why not ask patients what they want - oh wait! that one of the first steps to having a shared SUMMARY record.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have already told my GP I do not want to know re access. I trust him to keep my records safe and secure I do not want access to them.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In 2015 I shall be telling any patients who are non computer literate will be treated as second class citizens by the DoH and will experience reduced services. This will include:

    Reduced booking opportunity as it will all be taken up by online booking
    Reduced consultations as I'll be replying to unlimited and unpolished amount of emails.
    Reduced resources as it will be eaten up by IT.
    Longer time to action results and letters as I'll be spending more time amending the patient records at their request.

    I'm sure everyone will understand. After all it must all be part of David's "big society" plan and he can't be wrong right?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Yeah, any online app risks abuse, if the people affected don't get off their a***es to get involved. It is no answer to moan about the downsides, as an excuse for not doing something, which will help a lot of patients.

    So, get yourselves involved in sorting out the downsides, you luddite GPs. I am a patient, and want as much access to my records as I can get.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I want access to my own results and records online. I perform 99% of the management of my own diseases and my blood test results are useful to aid me in my decision making.

    Tests are performed on my blood - why should I have to beg for access to information that's about me?

    Patients manage their bank accounts and other sensitive and private information online. It's not rocket science.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The above 2 posts highlights the ignorance of those who are unable to see past their own experience and the needs.

    NHS is a welfare system accessed by millions and all ages, not just for the selected few. GPs & the NHS will incur the costs (I'm not just talking about the money here) of such move and as we do not have bottomless pit of money, cuts will have to be made else where.

    How does Richard Sarson propose his 'Luddite GP' sort out the down side? And where does he propose the resources appear from already stretched NHS?

    And for the second poster, you do not have to beg for the information, you simply need to apply for the access under the data protection act. GPs are obliged to protect the data under the same act, it will therefor will incur a charge (again set out under the same act).

    When will people in this country wake up and understand nothing done in this world is free. NHS is only free at the point of delivery - all of its activities, down to every single small task done by admin staff ultimately has to be paid for by the tax payer (not per item obviously)!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • GP leaders have strongly criticised the Department of Health’s plans to radically expand online access to patient records, saying they risk confidential information ending up in the hands of ‘abusive people’.
    The principles underpinning patient access.

    • 1. Ethical principles
    • 2. Clinical effectiveness principles
    • 3. Safety principles
    • 4. Cost effectiveness for the patients and public principles
    • 5. Cost effectiveness for service commissioners and for service providers principles
    • 6. Customer satisfactory principles
    • 7. Technological principles
    • 8. Global health provision principles
    • 9. Statutory and regulatory principles
    • 10 Efficiencies in reducing the global carbon footprint principles
    • 11 Timeliness of care principles


    REFERENCES

    **The Information Standards Board

    **European Union ARTICLE 29 Data Protection Working Party Working Document



    ** BMA guidance on cross border care
    ** The Information Standards Board
    ** GMC

    The duties of a doctor registered with the General Medical Council Good Medical Practice (2006)
    ** International Organization of Medicine report:
    “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A new Health System for the twenty first millennium”.
    United Nations **
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Article 19
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    **NHS Learning to Manage Health Information:
    a theme for clinical education

    **World Health organisation:-

    Executive board EB117/15 117th Session 1 December 2005 Provisional agenda item 4.13 “eHealth: proposed tools and services” Report by the Secretariat

    ** MDU Prevention of medical accidents

    ** The Data Protection Act 1998

    The GPC strongly criticised plans to make patient records available online by 2015 and plans for a wider rollout of e-consultations, which it said would put patients at risk and fundamentally change how GPs work.

    We have to change how GPs work – Dr Laurence Buckman sdays that GPs don’t have time to do these things - but our study shows that record access saves time for doctors.
    The NHS mandate, published this week, revealed ambitious plans for all patients to book appointments and order prescriptions online. It also said that patients should be able to securely email their GP by 2015. It also says that e-consultations should become ‘much more widely’ available.
    But the GPC warned rolling out e-consultations would risk patient confidentiality as neither party could know for sure who was on the other end of the email conversation. It also criticised plans for online access to patient records.

    The patient decides not the doctors. This is no different to taking medications – risks are involved or having an operation – risks are involved. Patients give consent - which is recorded for e-consultations and a risk benefit document is made available to them.
    GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘It gives the patient access to their records but also anyone who the patient gives a copy to. Of course and why not. The DPA allows this “36 Domestic purposes
    Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual’s personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III.”

    ‘This could be police or lawyers and so on, but we could also see it ending up in the hands of abusive people or third parties. So could people’s money but we don’t stop letting them have it.
    ‘I can see teenage parents trying to find out who has had sex with whom, who is doing drugs. I don’t think that’s a good use of medical records. Patients are educated and asked to go through a test to make sure that they understand record access consequences before they are allowed to do it. GMC guidance on consent

    “You must work in partnership with your patients. You should discuss with them
    their condition and treatment options in a way they can understand, and respect
    their right to make decisions about their care. You should see getting their consent
    as an important part of the process of discussion and decision-making, rather than
    as something that happens in isolation.”


    ‘There are certain things you wouldn’t want others to see, for example information on termination of pregnancy, syphilis and drug use.’ Patients are not unintelligent and know these things. Guidance for patients explains these things and they are compelled to read a questionnaire and answer it and sign consent before doing record access at the Two main record access practices in T and G.
    He also said the extra workload would be unbearable for busy GPs, as patients went online to find test results they did not understand and would immediately want to speak to their doctor. Our study shows a net saving in cash equivalent time of over £50000 to an average 16000 patient practice – including the cost of administering record access.
    He said: ‘When do I do this? Is it a night time activity, an evening activity? This is a workload that I do not currently have.’ See above and the business case paper Doctor are involved in only one or two per cent of requests.
    He added: ‘We know from [previous trialling] that nobody was interested in it at all. Although some people may be interested at first, in the long term it would be the third parties who had the biggest interest. This is a crucial issue for us to explain to the public.’ What previous trialling of access to GP records is he talking about? Ours is very positive evidence.
    Also commenting on the mandate, GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the GPC was disappointed that the long-floated plans have now ‘been made a political imperative’, despite the Government being made aware of GPC concerns and despite the fact the Government’s own research project – which is being carried out by the RCGP – is still outstanding. This is not a research project it is an implementation project.
    He concluded: ‘Patients already have access to their records, so none of this is necessary.’ No they don’t already have access – try asking your GP records for access It takes up to 40 days according to the DPA method and requires written paperwork and a cheque.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @Anonymous 16 November 2012 10:15pm

    What you fail to see is that by facilitating patients' access to their own tests and records, you can save money. By proactively managing my own LTCs I can save the NHS many £100,000s that can then be ploughed into the care of others who aren't so proactive or who don't want access.

    Doctors can't on the one hand endlessly complain about their patients' unwillingness to take responsibility for the management of their own health and at the same time put up lots of obstacles that prevent proactive patients from managing their own conditions.

    Patients can already log on to EMIS to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions. Are you really telling me it would be impossibly expensive for EMIS to offer patients (who might already have a login) access to their own results and records?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say